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A Conversation
on Prevention

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, June 14th, 2013

Tanning is Out Highlights

The results are in! The Tanning is Out Challenge was a huge success for high schools with more than 8,000 students in BC pledging to stay tan-free! Students promoted sun safety and busted some dangerous myths regarding tanning. They planned activities asking their peers to take the tan-free pledge and avoid deliberate tanning both indoors and outdoors. 

Photo Challenge:

Students also took part in weekly photo challenges. Each school was encouraged to submit a photo to TIO Facebook. The school with the funniest and most creative photo of the week was eligible for an extra per cent added to their total pledge numbers giving them an advantage to potentially win the overall challenge. We saw creative shine and I’ve never seen competition this fierce!

What are students saying about the photo challenge?

“It was a good way to get the word out and it was creative.”

“It was fun! I was able to participate with my friends.”

“Everyone got a chance to be whacky.”

Successes and Inspiration:


Tanning is Out Leaders from the Greater Vancouver Area at Windermere Community School hosted themes like “Jers-day” where students encouraged their peers to dress up like their favourite, and extremely artificially tanned, Jersey Shore characters while promoting the TIO Challenge and what not to look like. With their Photo Challenge submissions, Windermere came out on top with 100.5% of grade 12’s pledging to be tan-free. Awesome job guys! 

On Vancouver Island the winning school, Oak Bay High generously decided to donate their prize money towards Relay for Life. This inspirational group of students have helped advance the work of the Canadian Cancer Society in so many ways. Truly amazing!

In the Fraser Valley Region, Tamanawis Secondary TIO Student Leaders showed the “What if” video and provided presentations to all Gr. 10 classes in the school. They focused on the fact that skin cancer doesn’t discriminate and that people of all skin types must practice sun sense.

In the Northern Region, Williams Lake Secondary TIO Leaders engaged the cooking class to bake cakes frosted with orange TIO designs which they shared when students pledged.

In the Southern Interior Region students from grades 6-12 took the tan-free pledge. The TIO initiative at Kelowna Christian School was a feature story on Global BC in the Okanagan.

Personal reflection: 

As a former student volunteer and continuing TIO volunteer, it has been wonderful journey to work on this initiative with high school students. It’s an amazing feeling to walk out of a high school knowing that you’ve changed the way someone evaluates how unnecessary and dangerous tanning is. The message behind this campaign has really resonated with me over the years. It has constantly reminded me that true beauty isn’t what you can do to change your skin but learning to embrace all the parts that make you who you are.

For a more in depth explanation about Tanning is Out, click here.

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 25th, 2013

Personal Reflection on Tanning is Out

By Jen

I personally thought Tanning is Out was a rewarding experience and was definitely one of the highlights of my grad year. As you may recall, I wrote a post last year about my experience at Windermere Secondary’s TIO.  The best part of this event was just experiencing the change in perception from my peers. Whether it be releasing some of the pressures to look “bronzed”, or helping break some myths about a “healthy” tan (which is totally not healthy at all), the TIO challenge definitely broke some barriers between what we would like to believe and what we really should know. 

Jennifer Wu (far right) with Windermere student leaders encouraging students to take the tan-free pledge last year.

This year I continue my journey with the TIO team as a Challenge Leader with Windermere. The best part hasn’t changed much. I still love coming into the schools for their events and seeing what an impact pledge week has on the entire school. It’s definitely been a team effort and the most rewarding part is just watching the slow change in perception in regards to what “embracing/owning your own skin tone” really means! 

The initiative shines a lot of light on an often misinformed subject in our society today. With the media showing us that “bronze is the new beautiful/healthy/sexy” it becomes increasingly difficult to shy away from those images and remind ourselves that we are good enough and we don’t need to alter our exterior to fit a mold.

Fact: Having a tan is unhealthy. When your skin colour changes, it’s damaged and can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

What are your thoughts on the look of a tan? Leave me a comment in the box below!

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 8th, 2013

Tanning is Totally Out

By Jen

Spring has finally come into full force with more sun and definitely more fun! With the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual Tanning is Out Challenge in high gear, high schools all across BC are taking part in this fun challenge.

So what exactly is the “Tanning is Out Challenge” all about?

Well the name says it all! High schools across BC host one week full of themed days promoting sun safety while educating students that no tan is a safe tan. The goal is to collect pledges from students to encourage them to avoid tanning indoors and outdoors before the end of school (and the rest of their lives!). The school with the highest percentage of pledges would then be able to bask in all their tan free glory.

FACT: There is no safe way to get a tan. Some tanning beds can expose people up to 5 times more radiation than the sun.

The creative forces behind TIO

A little healthy competition among schools has fueled student commitment and enthusiasm for the cause. Believe me, hosting a TIO pledge week definitely requires creativity and A LOT of team work!

On Vancouver Island, Carihi Secondary has gone the lengths of canvassing their local grocery chain to get donations for a TIO Challenge tail gate party where they also promoted the cause.  The profit generated from the party was then donated to the TIO Challenge leader’s Relay for Life team.

In the Greater Vancouver Region, a number of schools are getting creative. Argyle Secondary’s “Anti-Orange Day” in which they handed out oranges with the logo “orange is a snack, not a skin tone” was a huge hit! Handsworth Secondary hosted karaoke and a Zumba work out session to promote healthy life choices and spread the TIO message.

There are still a number of schools in the midst of their pledge weeks. The anticipation of the upcoming pledge count is nearing and schools are on their toes waiting for their results. It is important to mention that the TIO challenge would not be able to spread its message the way it has without the commitment and hard work of schools across BC! 

Stay tuned for a final update on schools across the province!

Until next time, Jennifer Wu

Guest blogger, Survivor, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Women's Health, July 23rd, 2012

I’d hate to be Frank

By Sarah Merrill

Sarah Merrill is a volunteer blogger for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tanning is Out initiative. She is also a skin cancer survivor. In her latest post, she shares her story.

A few years ago I remember reading a magazine article about a girl in her twenties who after excessive tanning was diagnosed with skin cancer. The spread contrasted photos of her tanned with pictures of her embracing her natural skin tone.  In the moment the story resonated, but I got up, put the magazine down and walked away.  It would never happen to me.

I have always been a health conscious individual; I exercise regularly and eat healthy because I was taught to treat my body with respect. I wore sunscreen most of the time, but my lily-white skin didn’t mix well with the Saskatchewan sun. My love for outdoor sports seemed to make at least one major sunburn  inevitable each summer. When it came to indoor tanning I was apprehensive, but at age 16 I tanned to get a “good base tan” for Mexico. A year or so later I tanned a couple of times before a friends prom, and one last time for my own prom. I did not want to be orange like the girls who graduated before me; I just wanted that “healthy glow”. I debated a spray tan, but it didn’t fit my high school budget and I’d have to travel to find a salon that offered spray tan services. Sadly, I didn’t know going in a tanning bed for ANY AMOUNT OF TIME before the age of 35 can increase one’s risk of skin cancer by 75%.

Somewhere along the line, a mole on my knee morphed from the small brown beauty mark it once was to a funky-looking pink aberration. I went to my doctor to get the mole removed – simply because it was unattractive – but he considered excision of the mole cosmetic and sent me on my way. By grade 12 the mole grew bigger, was getting more attention, and thus became worthy of a name – Frank. How the name came about, I cannot recall but it stuck. Frank was a creepy little guy, so unpleasant looking my peers suggested I wear band-aids over him and pretend it was a cut.

That fall, I moved to Calgary for university and the following short-shorts worthy summer brought Frank to my attention, for a second time. He was a little more red, a lot more raised, and rather round. With more determination than last time I went to a few doctors, but the results were the same; one doctor offered to freeze Frank off and the rest said, “It is nothing”. Finally, after pulling some strings, I got an appointment in Saskatchewan and drove home specifically to have the mole removed. Both the doctor and the surgeon who removed Frank said, “It is nothing,” and that they were only sending Frank in as mandatory procedure. I watched them plop Frank in a little container thinking a tiny little scar would be all I had to remember him by. Good riddance!

Wrong. Frank actually had a family and they had moved in. It turns out “nothing” was stage 3 invasive malignant melanoma. Fortunately, the process for me was short; I was diagnosed around Thanksgiving in 2010, went in for surgery on December 16, and was announced cancer-free freshly into the New Year. Even though I have the battle wounds to prove it, a scar on my knee (initial incision) and upper thigh (lymph node removal), the seriousness of the situation did not sink in until recently when I heard about Glenna Kohl. At age 26 after excessive tanning both indoors and outdoors, and a misdiagnosis, stage 3 invasive malignant melanoma took Glenna’s life. As I read her story, it finally hit me that it’s a miracle my cancer had not spread since stage 3 invasive malignant melanoma generally means the cancer has gone beyond the skin and traveled throughout the body to the lymph nodes.

If you are reading this you’re probably feeling the same way I did years ago sitting in the doctors office, but please don’t walk away thinking, “It will never happen to me,” like I did. I encourage you to discuss Frank to your friends, family, or anyone who will listen – tweet it, Facebook it, or get old school and just talk about it – tanning is not worth the risk. Make little changes in your life (I’m not saying don’t go outside, just be careful when you do). Know your skin, watch for signs of change and talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, July 13th, 2012

Sunscreen: how to choose and how to use

Summer is here and along with that comes sunscreen! Wearing sunscreen helps protect your skin by blocking the sun’s damaging rays. Knowing what sunscreen to choose and how to use it will help you protect your skin.

How to choose sunscreen

• Sunscreens are available with a sun protection factor (SPF) ranging from 2 to at least 100.

• Use an SPF of 15 or higher, and if you work outdoors or are planning to be outside most of the day, use an SPF 30.

• Make sure the product offers both UVA and UVB protection (usually labelled “broad-spectrum”). All sunscreens allow some UV rays to penetrate your skin, but broad spectrum will give you the best protection.

• If you’re in the water, make sure your sunscreen is water-resistant.

• If you aren’t sure what sunscreen is right for you talk to your pharmacist.

How to use sunscreen

• Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go out to allow the active ingredients to soak into your skin. Don’t forget your ears, nose, neck and any bald spots.

• Don’t forget your lips – they need protection too. Use an SPF 15 sunscreen lip balm and reapply when needed.

• Reapplication, reapplication, reapplication! Follow the instructions for reapplying your sunscreen, especially after swimming or sweating.

• Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on cloudy days and during the winter months.

• Shop around. Try different sunscreens until you find one that works best for you.

Don’t be fooled by a high SPF – sunscreen on its own doesn’t offer complete protection from sun damage. Be sure to use it along with shade, clothing and hats, not instead of them! Use sunscreen as your backup plan in sun protection. The sun is at its strongest between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can, plan your outdoor activities before or after this time. Before you head out for the day, know the UV forecast for your community. When the UV index is above 3, take precautions.

This summer, choose your sunscreen wisely and enjoy the sun safely! For more information on sun and UV visit the Canadian Cancer Society BCY.

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Women's Health, Youth, June 28th, 2012

Keep it real.

By Brittney Parks

Summer is here and the pressure to rock your beach-ready body and flawless tan is on. Unfortunately, this is one of the pressures some women face throughout their adolescent lives and into their young adult years. A new social media campaign aims to change this – the Keep it Real Challenge.

SPARK Movement,,, Endangered Bodies and I Am That Girl are joining forces to host the Keep it Real Challenge, a three-day social media campaign to urge print magazines to pledge to print at least one non-photoshopped image of female models per issue.

This movement started with just one individual – 14-year-old Julia Bluhm. Julia started a petition to get Seventeen Magazine to include one non-photoshopped image in every issue. She has successfully collected over 80,000 petitions and counting!
Her one-person campaign has snowballed into a much larger movement.

The Keep it Real Challenge, which runs from June 27th to June 29th, is empowering girls and young women to challenge unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.

Throughout our Tanning is Out initiative, we encourage young women and men to not outdoor or indoor tan and to own their own skin tone. When speaking with young women, they often bring up the pressures to tan resulting from the media – the image of a tall, tanned, skinny woman. While it may seem beautiful in a magazine, in reality, it is an image that many young women struggle with as they strive to live up to this notion of perceived beauty. They should not have to face these pressures – they should feel empowered to embrace their own skin tone and natural beauty.

The Tanning is Out initiative is breaking down some of the barriers faced in terms of beauty; however, our work is not done yet.

Today, we are participating in the Keep It Real Challenge by sharing our voice, through our blog. We are encouraging others to do the same. Please note - this campaign does not apply just to women – it is an opportunity for guys to also get involved and let magazines know how they feel about the use of photoshopped images and unrealistic expectations about appearance.

Day 1 (June 27th): Use the #KeepitReal on Twitter to challenge magazines to drop photoshop.

Day 2 (June 28th): Use your blog to share your voice and tell the world why photoshop needs to go. 

Day 3 (June 29th): Post images of real beauty via your Instagram account and be entered into the #KeepItRealChallenge, with selected photos being shown on a billboard in New York City.

We are continuously inspired by the youth we work with throughout the Tanning is Out initiative and their commitment to natural beauty and keeping it real by being tan-free.

Tanning is Out Ambassadors presented to the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island in support of a bylaw prohibiting those under 18 from indoor tanning.

Young women standing up for real beauty!

For more information, check out the Keep It Real Challenge Toolkit. Here is a photo worth sharing.


Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, June 1st, 2012

Last minute details for prom

by Jen

For some of you grads out there, Prom Season has gotten you in stress mode while finding the ‘perfect’ outfit that will leave your peers in awe. Refer to my older posts on dress and make-up tips –  Helpful Tips for Grad Pics.

When you are finalizing the last minute details for prom, take into consideration some of these suggestions to make the most of your night.

A struggle between beauty and comfort… has met its answer!

TIP: You are more likely to re-wear your prom heels compared to your dress, so it’s okay to splurge on those shoes you’ve been eyeing!

Make sure you find shoes that are comfortable and tolerable. It’s your big night and you’ll probably spend the majority of it on your feet dancing away or running around taking pictures. I’m sure you don’t want to spend your big night walking around barefoot or clenching your teeth because of painful heels!

Wedges are a great alternative to those high-rise heels. While still giving you height, they spread your weight evenly so that there are no pressure points.  If your dress is long, your shoes will hardly show, so if wedges don’t really suit your style, you can still pull them off!

Tip: Gel insoles for heels are a great way to reduce the pressure points and stiffness of the heel. Translation? Heels are more tolerable with less pain and going barefoot isn’t an option! Many platforms tend to have very weak traction at the bottom of the shoe, creating a higher chance of you slipping.  By inserting heel grips at the bottom of your platforms, you decrease the chances of a slipping incident!

Cheaper alternatives to pricey costs

Want to get your hair and nails done prior to prom? Salons can get expensive for that one-time-do. Instead of paying someone to curl your hair and paint your nails, get your girlfriends to help you out. Get a bunch of friends to come over and do each other’s hair and nails. There are hundreds of DIY tutorials on YouTube to teach you how to prep for prom. It’s free and fun – it can’t get any better than that!

Prom accessories

Tip: Think of your dress as the spotlight of the show and everything else is meant to enhance the look of the dress, not outshine it!

This floral charm necklace goes great with a black or white dress. The colour block multi-chained necklace is subtle enough to rock without over doing it.

When it comes to the colour of your dress and the accessories you choose, pastel and bolder colours tend to go great with simple jewelry pieces, because they’re already quite loud. Whereas cream coloured, white or black dresses go great with bold coloured statement pieces such as teal, red or sequins. Stacking some awesome bangles is another great option.

If your dress is quite simple, you can’t go wrong with a fringe necklace.

I want to acknowledge the schools across B.C. that have joined the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tan Free Grad Challenge! Over 6,000 students across the province have pledged to not indoor or outdoor tan prior to prom. You guys are awesome and lead a great example for embracing and OWNING your natural skin tone! Visit Cancer Game Plan for more info on the Tan Free Grad.

I wish everyone a happy prom. Though one chapter in life has just ended, many more are to come. So please have fun and be safe!

Until next time,


Photos: Prom Images (Canadian Cancer Society);  Black Wedge, Blue Wedge, Pink Wedge; Floral Charm Necklace; Multi-Chain Necklace; Bead Fringe; Blue Fringe

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 23rd, 2012

Tan Free Grad

by Jen

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that the BC Government has recently announced that they plan to ban the use of indoor tanning for youth under 18. How cool is that?!

Now on to Tan Free Grad…

In preparation for the prom fiasco, Windermere Community School has participated, alongside other schools across the province, in its first ever Tan Free Grad!

So what exactly IS Tan Free Grad?

It involves a group/committee of students that plan and carry-out the Tan Free Grad initiative at their school. The goal is to collect pledges from grads promising that they won’t tan indoors or outdoors for prom. At Windermere, for one week we had a different theme every day that would educate students and raise awareness about the dangers of UV radiation and the precautions that can be taken.

Goal: When I had initially heard about the Tan Free Grad I was excited to get involved because I knew that many students at my school were contemplating indoor tanning for prom. I know that there had to be a way to educate people without coming off as ‘in their face’ or judgmental.

Tan Free Grad was one of the best experiences of my senior year and a great way to get students and the grad committee involved in something that could save lives and educate youth on the misconceptions about tanned skin.

The committee and I wanted to eradicate the portrayal of tanned skin as “beautiful” or “desirable”. After exposing the student body to the facts and dangers about indoor tanning, many were on board with our anti-tanning movement.

Everything starts with a willingness to try – I’m glad that I was a part of such a great and supportive team of grads that shared a similar interest in reaching out to youth regarding the dangers of tanning.

I encourage students to take on this challenge in your school and see the difference you’re able to make!

Conclusion: Windermere came out strong with 98% of the grad class pledging NOT to tan! The highest percentage in the Greater Vancouver Region!

For more information on how you can participate or lead a Tan Free Grad at your school visit Cancer Game Plan!

Until next time,

XOXOX Jennifer Wu

Collecting Pledges for the Tan Free Grad

Windermere Tan Free Grad Leaders

Orange is a fruit, not a skin tone!

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, March 16th, 2012

Youth Speak Out: Tanning Edition [video]

by Jen

Nowadays there’s so much from the media about the idea of unnaturally tanned skin. It’s being portrayed as “beautiful” and thus desirable, but the media fails to address the dangerous health risks and long-term consequences of tanning.

I think we can all agree that the last thing any of us needs is more pressure and unrealistic expectations to follow. Keep in mind that nothing is more beautiful than being confident in your own skin. True beauty comes from within and should never be defined by your skin tone. Never allow the media’s perception of unnatural tanned skin be your definition of beauty.

Here is a video that I made in which I asked various students from Windermere Secondary what their thoughts are about tanning.

The truth is, tanning is unsafe and the consequences of over exposure to UV rays can be deadly. Starting today, I challenge you to take the initiative to protect and embrace your skin!

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, February 1st, 2012

Adele Green’s Experiences as a Youth Advocate

By Brittney Parks

Do you fight back?

Victoria B.C.’s 19 year-old Adele Green has been fighting back against cancer and fighting for the future of youth for the past six years. As a Grade 9 student at Oak Bay High School in Victoria, Adele became a member of the Youth Against Cancer club. In Grade 11 and 12 as the club chair, she got involved with the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. & Yukon, as a fundraiser, an educator and an advocate.

Currently in her secondary year of studies in the School of Health Information Sciences at the University of Victoria (UVIC), Adele is still fight back against cancer. Youth Against Cancer is now a UVIC club with over 130 members, fundraising on campus and partnering with on-campus events, supporting with their volunteer force and adding prevention and awareness.

Adele was one of the youth that played an instrumental role in the passing of the Capital Regional District’s Tanning Regulation Bylaw (No. 3711).

Adele shared her experience as a youth advocate with me.

Youth Against Cancer

How did you get involved with advocacy?

In my last few months in Grade 12, Youth Against Cancer ended up doing a few information sessions on indoor tanning at my high school and it moved into the start of the Capital Regional District public consultations about indoor tanning. Nancy (Health Promotion Coordinator with the Society) had us come out to them and ever since then we have been involved in the whole process.

Why is advocacy important to you?

Last year was really a learning year for me as a university student. I had the opportunity to learn about the impacts of policy and advocacy fit really well into what I was studying. Advocacy allowed me to see the results of what I was putting in through volunteering.

What are some characteristics that youth should have if they want to take on the challenge of advocacy?

At first it was hard to stand up for what you believe in. When you hear the other side you start to doubt yourself, so having self-confidence is important. Also, having the ability to stick up to your friends about the issue is important. It is my age group that we are trying to influence. You may have to stick up to your friends that use indoor tanning equipment. Definitely not backing down was our motto – we weren’t backing down and we were standing up for what we believe in.

What do you hope will come out of the current advocacy work you are doing, supporting legislation prohibiting the use of indoor tanning for those under 18?

The whole idea that I try to push throughout the movement is a generational change – changing the idea that my age group needs to be tanned. The health risk factor isn’t in the mind of anyone. But looking ahead, my sister is eight years-old and I have already ingrained it in her mind that she doesn’t need to tan and when she gets to be my age the accessibility of indoor tanning won’t be there.

What message would you like to send to the Minister of Health and the Government of BC?

The changes we are making now aren’t only directing today’s youth, it is changing the frame of mind for future generations.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other youth that would like to get involved in advocacy?

You have to find that passion and motivation that will make you want to work hard for it and not give up — and finding your individual message that you want to send out. I know that at the beginning I kept going back to the stats and science. But as youth that isn’t really our position – we aren’t doctors or scientists. You have to find something you truly believe in and run with it.

If you would like to join the fight and be an advocate contact us at or send a letter to your MLA in support of legislation.

Taking a stand at the Capital Regional District public hearings

Canadian Cancer Society Volunteer Advocates Jessica Wong, Adele Green, Stephanie Wong and Carli Swift

Guest blogger, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, October 15th, 2011

Tanning is Out at UBCM

By Alicia Perry, Tanning is Out Campaign Leader

Protecting youth from exposure to indoor tanning is of utmost importance, as this exposure is a known cause of skin cancer. This past spring I worked with high school students on the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tanning is Out Tan Free Grad campaign, in an effort to raise awareness of skin cancer and the risks of ultraviolet radiation. Grade 12 students pledged to forgo tanning before graduation and their commitment was astounding. The campaign highlighted the importance of enacting a ban on indoor tanning for those under the age of 18.

Along with my involvement in the community at an awareness and education level, I recently had the chance to be involved in an advocacy component of the Tanning is Out initiative. I attended the Union of British Columbia Municipalities 2011 Convention. I spoke directly with Mayors and Councillors from all over the province about two resolutions, B157 and C23, which urged the province to ban the use of indoor tanning for those under the age of 18. As a volunteer, I shared my experiences and views with delegates, informed them of the issue and discussed the potential impact their vote in support of these resolutions could have.

I was pleasantly surprised with the number of positive responses I received. The support was overwhelming! I enjoyed listening to the delegates’ views on indoor tanning and what the ban would mean to their communities. While some delegates were not initially in full support of the resolution, I was able to educate them on the risks of tanning by sharing my experience with the Tan Free Grad campaign.

While waiting two days for the resolution to be read, the Canadian Cancer Society staff and volunteers were on the edge of their seats! When the resolution passed, I felt a sense of accomplishment as a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society and I was proud of the Mayors’ and Councillors’ commitment to public health.

I am excited to hear the province’s response to the resolution passed at UBCM, come spring 2012. My hopes for the future include the implementation of a provincial ban, as it will be instrumental in protecting youth against the harmful effects of indoor tanning. I look forward to the next endeavour the Canadian Cancer Society has for me, as it has been a truly rewarding experience working with the people there and feeling that I am helping to make a difference!

Alicia Perry is a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society as a Campaign Leader for the Tanning is Out Tan Free Grad campaign. She is in her last semester of her Bachelor of Arts degree in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Alicia recently attended the UBCM 2011 Convention and wanted to share her experience.

UBCM Photos 

Sharing petitions in support of a ban on indoor tanning collected throughout the Tanning is Out campaign

Canadian Cancer Society staff and volunteers at UBCM 2011 Convention

Guest blogger, TIO Ambassadors, August 11th, 2011

Fashion Do’s for Summer Sun Protection

by Kirsten Bilinsky, Guest Post

We all know one the best ways to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays is by covering up! So why not have fun with it?!? Be creative and express yourself while staying safe in the sun with these sun sense must-haves…

The over-sized Floppy Hat!

• The wide brim on these fun and fashionable hats help protect your head, face and shoulders from the sun. That’s a lot of coverage for a cute hat!

• Wear with a long flowing dress for a casual yet classy look.

The Fedora!

• The every-day/any occasions go-to hat for men and women alike this summer!

• Fedoras come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the perfect style to stay safe in the sun at every occasion.

• Straw fedoras are perfect for the beach, while a solid color fedora can be worn with just about anything to add style and interest to an outfit…and of course sun protection!!

Long Flowing Dresses!

• Sun protection, style and comfort. These 3-in-1 dresses provide an easy way to stay cool and breezy in hot weather while maintaining maximum coverage to help protect your skin from the sun.

• Dress it up with a nice bag and some stylish sandals for the city or pair with a straw fedora and a canvas bag for the beach!

The Parasol!

• The Victorians had it right! No longer just a historical fashion piece, the parasol is the perfect sun protection accessory for the modern girl.

• With so many colors and patterns to choose from, this sun sense accessory can compliment any style and mood, adding a romantic feel to your day.

Images: Floppy Hat; Fedora (Left/ Right); Long Flowing Dresses (Left/ Right); Parasol

Guest blogger, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, July 22nd, 2011

What Do Guys Think about Tanning?

By Lehoa Mak, Tanning is Out Project Manager 

This past weekend we had our Tanning is Out summer campaign launch at Kits beach in Vancouver! It was a perfect opportunity for me to get a guy’s perspective on tanning from some of our Tanning is Out Ambassadors.

Josh, a secondary school student, is an energetic guy who loves to play beach volleyball during the summer. Josh stepped it up this summer and decided to make a lifestyle change so that he can still play beach volleyball without having to worry about sun damage. Surrounded by many friends who believe that tanning is safe, Josh is comfortable telling them what he really thinks about it and he was happy to share his views with me.

Do you know some people who love to tan?

Yes, definitely. Most of my friends do believe that naturally tanning outdoors is okay and won’t cause cancer. I think that they don’t understand the harmful effects that the sun can have and that sun damage doesn’t go away. Even if people get sunburnt, they don’t take it that seriously. Before, I never knew that my skin was getting damaged even if it wasn’t getting sunburnt. After I learned more about it, I have been telling my friends the truth about tanning and that there is no such thing as a safe tan. Most of them listen, but they have been doing it for so long that they think that they can’t get skin cancer, so it’s hard to convince them.

Do you think guys consciously tan as part of their appearance?

Yes, they do. I think that media and television shows like Jersey Shore set an example. They show that “gym-tan-laundry” (GTL) is all they do every day. Stars also use tanning beds. The media influences guys to go tanning, so it’s up to campaigns like Tanning is Out, to tell people the truth about it – there’s nothing beautiful about tanning.

Is it common for male students to practice sun safety when playing outdoor sports, either at school or in their own time?

Nope. Maybe the guys think they are too “macho” or something. They think they don’t need sunscreen or anything and that it’s fine to get dark. If the coach said something about it though, they would probably put on sunscreen. What we need is to have the sunscreen there already, so it makes it easier to act on it.

 Do you think most guys are aware that tanning can increase their risk of skin cancer?

I believe guys know that, but it may not have touched them personally. It’s also about the friends they are around…“All my friends don’t put on sunscreen, so I won’t.”

I actually didn’t care about it before, but then I became aware about tanning and the harm it can do to our skin if we don’t protect ourselves. I constantly talk to my friends telling them easy alternatives, like how you can have SPF in your lip balm or getting moisturizer that already has SPF in it. Teens are lazy people and if it’s not easily accessible, they won’t do it. I try to carry sunscreen around in my schoolbag and tell them, “Yo – put some sunscreen on.” 

As a Tanning Is Out Ambassador, what is one message you would share about tanning?

Only one?! Uh oh… that’s hard. Being tanned is not the same as being beautiful.

So there you go! There’s no such thing as a safe tan and you don’t have to tan to be beautiful. Well said, Josh! Find us on Facebook to see where Josh and the other Tanning is Out Ambassadors will be this summer to spread the message on how we can all enjoy the sun safely. 

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, June 2nd, 2011

Tan Free Grad Leaders Speak Out about Tanning

In this blog post, co-written by Tan Free Grad Leaders Cynthia and Imaan, they are encouraging other teens to not tan. Both have had experience tanning and now believe it is not worth the risk.

Imaan and Cynthia, Tan Free Grad Leaders

We wanted to lead the Tanning is Out Tan Free Grad campaign at our school because we thought it was important to raise awareness about the adverse effects of deliberate tanning. We also thought it would be a great way to reach out to our grad class.

The students in our grad class had mixed reactions to our campaign. Some were excited to take the pledge, while others took some convincing; still others were against it. Many people who never would have cared thought twice about tanning and ended up taking the pledge and convincing their friends to do the same.

We think going tan free is important because tanning is unnecessary to look and feel beautiful. Everyone looks awesome in their own skin tone and they are also healthy! Also, being tan free ensures that our risk of getting skin cancer stays as low as possible.

We have both tanned while on vacation in sunny destinations. Cynthia tanned because she likes lying in the sun and the compliments she receives on her tan when she comes home. She changed her behaviour because she learned that sun damage is cumulative and realized that tan skin is unhealthy skin.

Imaan tanned because she felt like her warm skin tone was fading. She changed her behaviour because she realized that her own skin tone is fine the way it is. Additionally, she got a horrible sun burn for the first time and learned that dark skinned people are also affected by the sun and still need to wear sunscreen.

We think the trend of thinking tanned skin looks good is changing and that people are realizing their skin tone is beautiful the way it is. However, avid tanners still do not see, or do not care, about the harmful effects of tanning.

We want to tell other teens that tanning really does have an effect no matter what colour your skin is. Also, it can affect not only your life, but the lives of those who care about you and your health.

Cynthia & Imaan, Tan Free Grad Leaders
Burnaby BC

Guest blogger, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, May 10th, 2011

Q & A with Tanning is Out Ambassador Erin Ireland

We sat down with Vancouver personality and food reporter and Tanning is Out ambassador Erin Ireland to talk about why she’s backing the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tanning is Out Campaign. Here’s what she had to say.

You’re in the spotlight a lot- literally on camera! And have rubbed elbows with many celebs; ever felt pressure to tan?

Fortunately not! The older I become, the less I enjoy the ‘tanned look’. I used to feel my best with a tan. Before any big event, I’d apply self tanner or go for a spray tan. Now, it’s the opposite. I love the natural look — in fact, I sometimes apply a slightly lighter shade of powder on my face for that ‘porcelain’ complexion. Tanning really is out in my mind. 

Thinking back when you were in highschool… was tanning and going to the tanning salon popular?  

Yes! Especially before formals and grad. Of course, at the time, my friends didn’t realize the negative, aging effects tanning has on the skin. They’d go on an almost daily basis until their skin was leathery brown. At the time, we thought it looked good…but looking back, it almost looks scary! Fortunately, my mom hammered how bad tanning is into my head…she pointed out her skin damage while telling stories of how she and her friends would lather up in baby oil and lie on their roofs surrounded by tin foil!

Tell us the fashion trend these days around tanning? Do you think it’s changing?  Why?

The ‘classy & smart’ look is becoming more and more fashionable for females of all ages. That ‘uber tanned’ look represents someone who hasn’t done their research…someone who’s in the dark about current issues surrounding damaging UV rays and the prevalence of skin cancer. This is not attractive to men or anyone.

You went to University in sunny South Carolina; what were those years like?

My four years in South Carolina were the years I regret most when it comes to sun damage. I got sucked in to the focus on tanning. Of course, the Southern hot season is twice as long as ours is here in Vancouver, and my friends and I were ignorant. My campus’ lake was the hotspot and we hardly missed a day. I wish I could do it over again and avoid the damage I caused. Hopefully with my stories, I’ll be able to convince my future daughter to save her skin…if not from cancer, from wrinkles, too. The good news is that I’m making up for it now — I’ve barely tanned in four years!

What do you think about legislation that would prohibit teens from tanning?

I’m hoping with all my heart that it passes. Sadly, youth is wasted on the young, and sometimes, until making mistakes, it can be very tough to learn a lesson. It’s fantastic that the government is trying to eliminate the decision process and save teens from making a mistake that they’d surely regret at a later age, just like I do.

What advice would you give to young girls and guys when it comes to tanning?

With their fresh, young skin, teenagers don’t even realize how naturally beautiful they are. It may be hard for them to realize, but the best they’ll ever want to look is around the age of thirty — when it REALLY counts. If they tan often at an early age and damage their skin, the signs will be already be apparent at the age of thirty. They should challenge themselves to attend their 15 year high school reunion looking better than everyone else…with smooth, healthy, wrinkle-free skin.

Visit Erin Ireland’s blog: it’s to die for

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, May 6th, 2011

Q & A with Lily: Embrace your natural skin

By Brittney Parks

We interviewed Lily, Tan Free Grad Leader at West Vancouver Secondary to find out her views on indoor tanning and the Tan Free Grad campaign. She has some great messages to share with other teens!


What is your view of indoor tanning?

I personally believe indoor tanning to be a dangerous, superficial, and unnecessary act of insecurity and/or vanity. I am a strong believer of embracing the traits that are given to us, rather than attempting to modify or alter them. Fake tanning goes against that belief, as it suggests to many, that it is okay to not appreciate the way that you look and that by changing your appearance, you will lead a happier lifestyle. However, this is not the case, as indoor tanning is extremely dangerous and can lead to very serious diseases, such as skin cancer. While a tan may only last a few weeks, cancer is a battle one has to fight their entire life. I personally think that indoor tanning promotes an unhealthy life style and body image, and that it is definitely not worth the risk.

Why are you participating in the Tan Free Grad campaign?

In February, our Graduation Committee hosted our annual Semi-Formal event. During the few weeks preceding the event, we came to realize that many of the students in our grad class were fake tanning in order to look, what they believed to be, their absolute best. However, they were unaware of the risks and dangers of fake tanning and its role in the development of skin cancer. For this reason, as we quickly approach graduation, our Grad Committee has decided to participate in the Tan Free Grad campaign, in order to raise awareness for skin cancer, promote a healthy body image, and prevent any more dangerous tanning.

What will this campaign mean to your school, your friends, or yourself?

What this campaign means to our school is that we are taking one step closer to leading healthier and happier lifestyles. We wish to break out of the bubble in which we have been trapped that suggests that the only way to be attractive is by being tanned, and instead enforce a new idea that promotes the idea that all skin tones are beautiful, and that a healthier lifestyle is far more important than a superficial tan.

Can you share your beauty tricks to keeping your skin looking healthy and natural?

I think beauty tricks, especially concerning skin, are pretty difficult to answer just because everyone’s skin is so different! But for me personally, I find that less is almost always the best way to go. I never wear face make-up except for the occasional concealer on trouble areas, and to be honest, I think that is what keeps my skin pretty clear. I hate wearing a lot of makeup because I feel like my pores cant breathe and I’m pretty scared of clogging my pores and causing breakouts (which does tend to happen to me when I do wear face make-up). The best tips I have are simply to wash your skin at least twice a day, and most importantly, moisturize! 

Any key take home messages you want to share with others who are reading this?

Just to remember that the people who are important in your life will love you and be there, regardless of how tanned you are. Nobody who really cares about you will think any less of you if you’re not tanned – in fact, they will probably be a lot happier knowing that you’ve reduced your own risk of skin cancer. There are so many things about you that make you attractive to someone, and being tanned is rarely one of those main reasons. So just be who you are, embrace your natural skin, and be kind to your body!

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, May 5th, 2011

Accept Your Skin As It Is

Eve, Tan Free Grad Leader at Chatelech Secondary School is helping to raise awareness about the dangers of UV radiation among her friends and classmates. She believes being confident with your natural body image is important and indoor tanning is not worth the risk.



Tanning is popular at my school, as we have several tanning places in my town with deals such as “two for one” Tuesdays. There is no doubt that a lot of people visit these tanning beds during winter. In the summer months however, it is mostly tanning at the beach and lake, as we have such beautiful weather. A lot of people I have observed, seem to be aware of the risks of tanning yet participate in going to tanning beds for the sake of having a desirable skin tone. Fortunately, I do think this trend is changing. As people are becoming more aware of the dangers, it seems to be losing its popularity. The media has greatly helped to fuel this, as nowadays any summer article you read in a beauty magazine has information on melanoma scares, and how to protect your skin from the sun. With tanning beds having received the stamp of ‘carcinogen’, light has been shed on the risks of using them, and hopefully people can eventually see tanning beds for what they are: a clear path to premature aging, and potentially deadly skin cancer.

With anything that causes cancer, there most certainly needs to be restrictions for usage. Teens are not legally able to purchase cigarettes, therefore they should not be able to go to a tanning bed, which has been proven to cause cancer. While the government cannot do anything about people tanning in the sun, there can easily be restrictions for tanning beds, which can be far more dangerous to the skin than the sun alone. I would not advocate making tanning beds completely illegal, as that is unrealistic. Yet people should be aware of the risks that come with using a tanning bed, and having to be a certain age will at least help to protect teens until they are adults and have responsibility for themselves.

Body image is all about confidence. When people engage in an activity that makes them feel confident about their appearance, i.e. tanning, they will continue to do it. It seems like in our culture, having a tan is the equivalent of being healthy and good looking. Golden skin is associated with vacations, summer and fun times. Yet not everybody tans easily, and it can seem that being pale equals being less attractive, which is hard in a society that puts so much pressure on looks. A key message I hope everybody can grasp is that while damaging your skin may look good to you in the short term, the long term is not so pretty. Red, wrinkled skin is nobody’s idea of healthy. Not to mention seriously jeopardizing your health by developing skin cancer. Accepting your skin as it is will save you painful burns, cancer scares, and embarrassing streaky self-tanning episodes. So as a last message I hope everyone reading this will consider this: self acceptance is key, and know that when it comes to your health, nothing should be compromised.

I have decided to participate in the Tan Free Grad campaign because protecting your skin is one of the easiest yet most overlooked ways to prevent cancer, and I found it a great way to raise awareness about this issue. If this campaign can help raise enough awareness for everybody or even a few people in my school to decide to not use a tanning bed, that would mean a lot to me. My friend’s well being is extremely important to me, as is the health of everyone in my school.

Eve, Tan Free Grad Leader
Sechelt BC

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 18th, 2011

Fight the Pressure to Tan and Be Confident with Who You Are

Northern BC’s Tanning is Out Ambassador Haylee, shared her views with us on the Tan Free Grad campaign that she helped lead at her secondary school. Haylee, like many other Grade 12 students, believes you should be confident in your own skin tone.

The Tanning Is Out campaign was an amazing experience for my grad class and myself. As the student leader, it makes me extremely proud knowing that over 90% of my grad class chose to lead healthier, longer lives by choosing to go tan free. It was awesome to see so many of my fellow grads pledge right away. Many of them said things like their skin couldn’t tan anyway, or that they thought tanning was silly, or that they knew it was bad for them. All of these things were awesome reasons for people to pledge, however, the most challenging part of the campaign was convincing the “tanners” to go tan free.

For many of these girls (and a few boys), the issue was not just going tan free, but something much bigger. Some said they felt less confident without a tan, that all their friends tanned, or that they didn’t like the natural color of their own skin tone. These issues of confidence, peer pressure, and self image, are all traditional problems that teenagers deal with.

Not only did the Tanning Is Out campaign educate my grad class about the dangers of tanning, and bring everyone together for a common cause, but it sent the message that it’s okay to be yourself and be confident with who you are; both things that are needed to be a healthy, happy, tan free individual. 

Haylee, Tan Free Grad Leader
Prince George BC

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 12th, 2011

Northern Student Speaks Out: Your skin protects you. Are you protecting it?

Grade 12 students throughout British Columbia are pledging to forgo tanning for prom this year as part of the Tanning is Out Tan Free Grad challenge. By participating in the Tan Free Grad challenge, students are letting others know that tanning is not cool. Kayla, a participant in the Tan Free Grad challenge shared her views with us on indoor tanning and why this issue needs more attention.

We live in a society that values beauty at almost all costs. It doesn’t matter what it does to you, because you look good. People don’t think about the consequences of what they are doing to themselves. This is an issue brought forth to me by the use of indoor tanning beds.

Even the occasional use of indoor tanning beds, between the ages of 15-35, raises your chances of developing Melanoma by 75%. To me, that’s a little close for comfort. If you knew something had a high likelihood of increasing the risk of something as sobering as cancer, why would you continue? The answers we got from our peers in defense of tanning were often backed by reasons that have been proven to be myths. We’ve been told that it makes you look good, that it makes your acne go away, it’s relaxing, and the list goes on. The facts stand strong; tanning is simply damage to your skin. Skin damage isn’t something that goes away, it doesn’t repair itself, and you’re stuck with it. I would like to challenge people to take a few minutes and think about what you are doing to your skin. It protects you, are you protecting it?

As a secondary school, Caledonia has joined the “Tanning is Out” campaign sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society. Our role is to lay out the facts, and encourage grade 12 students to commit themselves to not tanning for prom. We promote sun protection, avoidance of indoor tanning, and knowledge of the effects tanning can leave on your body. Educating the students has been a major element of our campaign because we believe early awareness leads to healthy decisions. It has been apparent from the very beginning that we have tremendous support from our fellow classmates, teachers, and citizens of Terrace.

However, the main goal of this campaign isn’t just to keep people from tanning for prom. We feel that tanning has such huge dangers and risks that it needs to be regulated. There have been voluntary guidelines set out for tanning beds, and studies almost unanimously show that they aren’t followed at all. This brings us to the legislation in the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island, where indoor tanning has been banned for anyone under the age of 18. It also requires people that appear to be under the age of 25 to present identification. The Canadian Medical Association has put forth a motion to ban tanning beds to all Canadian minors. This idea of keeping minors out of tanning beds isn’t new, or area specific. The medical community has realized that it is significant enough to push for legislation. There is legislation banning and regulating the usage of alcohol to prevent abuse, so why not tanning? They both cause health problems, they are both addictive, and now tanning needs to be recognized as an issue that needs the same attention.

It is my sincere wish that this issue would be given the attention that it needs and deserves. It affects everyone, our youth, our adults, our seniors. When someone gets skin cancer, it doesn’t just affect them. It affects their family, friends, and community. Education is vital, if people don’t know the effects of something, how can they avoid it? If we can prevent even one person from potentially getting skin cancer, or any type of disease for that matter, our job has been well done.

Kayla, Tan Free Grad Leader
Terrace BC

Photo Credit: Janine Workman (Molly and Kayla, Grade 12 Students)

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 7th, 2011

Q & A with Lina: Teen tanning is out; your skin is in

We sat down with Grade 12 student and Tanning is Out Ambassador Lina to find out from her what she thinks about tanning, here’s what she had to say.

In your high school is tanning and using a tanning bed popular?

In my school using tanning beds was very popular a few years ago, even guys were doing it! Luckily now the trend has substantially died down.

Do you think the trend is changing?

I think the trend is changing due to the education that is being provided as well as the recent surge of self love that has been very popular these days. Songs like Lady Gaga’s Born This Way are influencing people to accept themselves for who they are no matter the colour of their skin or their race. This trend has also been present in Hollywood where many celebrities are embracing their natural, undamaged skin colours.

Why don’t you tan?

I don’t tan because I have become aware of the dangers of skin cancers such as melanoma that can be caused from exposure to UV rays. I do not feel that it is worth risking my health in order to change my skin tone which I have grown to love!

Can you share your beauty tricks to keeping your skin looking healthy and natural?

In order to keep my skin healthy I wear sunscreen everyday, especially on my face. Protecting my skin from the sun prevents premature wrinkles as well as fights dryness and spotting.

What do you think about a legislation that would prohibit teens from tanning?

I think a legislation that prohibits teens from tanning is exactly what this province needs. As teenagers we often have insecurities which we can outgrow. It is a shame to see so many young girls frequently going to tanning salons because they feel insecure about their skin and damaging their skin in a way that they will later regret. By restricting indoor tanning for those 18 and under, the province can ensure that the people using indoor tanning salons are adults who have had time to make an educated decision and have clearly weighed out the pros and cons of using tanning beds.

Any key take home messages you want to share with others who are reading this?

I would like people to know that it is not worth spending money and risking one’s health by using tanning beds. Diversity is what makes Canada such an amazing country and having people with so many diverse natural skin tones really does make a nice rainbow!